Written by Tim Louis
As we all know, developers make windfall profits every time their property is rezoned by Vancouver City Council to increase density. Many years ago, Vancouver’s City Council of the day wisely decided that henceforth any rezoning over a certain size would come with a very positive requirement — the developer would have to designate 20 per cent of the new building’s units for social housing.
One of Vision Vancouver’s worst decisions with regard to this long-established requirement was redefining social housing to include all rental housing, no matter how expensive the rental units are. In other words, the developer can now charge market rates for rental units, and still have those units included as part of their social housing obligation.
But it gets richer.
Behold, the Poor Door. Recently, Vision Vancouver has gone even further in watering down this once very progressive developer requirement. In several projects, including the most recent one proposed at 1177 Jervis, developers are permitted to have every social housing residents access the building through a separate, segregated door — a so-called “poor door”. Whatever happened to the idea of social integration?
The raison d’etre of the 20 per cent requirement, when first introduced so many decades ago, was to integrate various income levels within society. Long gone were the days of separate stand-alone developments ‘”for the poor”. Much better to have everyone living together, as equals, in the same development.With Vision Vancouver’s latest “poor door” policy we are witnessing one more step toward the eventual elimination of a very wise decision made by Vancouver City Council decades ago.